The Healthy Librarian's Riff on Alton Brown's Best Winter Vegetable Soup
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And Now for the Recipe
On Saturday morning an anonymous (really) HHLL reader sent me this email:
Saw this on tv this morning, figured I'd share..it's mostly plant strong!"
Later, that day I checked out the recipe & it looked outstanding. It was on an Alton Brown show called: "Best Dish I Ever Made: One Dish Wonders"
A winter vegetable soup that Alton Brown says is one of his best dishes?
A winter vegetable soup that can be made Plant Strong? No-oil?
I was on it in a flash! I watched the video, copied down the recipe. Silly me--if I had searched for 30 seconds, I would have found the recipe already printed out. Aargh!
I cut out the oil, increased the amounts of some of the vegetables, substituted vegetable broth instead of water---& bingo! I had a recipe.
On Monday morning as I left the house for work, the Lab Rat asked, "How about a hearty soup for dinner tonight? Any ideas?"
"Oh, yeah! I have just the right recipe. And here it is."
Full Disclosure: Alton adds a definitely "no-no" plant-strong ingredient to this recipe. Some of you may be shocked that I even included it in my soup. I made the executive decision that it was just a "flavorizer"---and I wanted to find out how much flavor it was really going to add to the soup.
Honestly, both the Lab Rat & I noticed the delicious "robusto punch" it added. When the soup was finished cooking--we discarded it. Just like a bouquet garni. Right into the garbage. I think it would add to the depth of flavor in my Italian Wedding Soup Rapido, too.
What's the "no-no" ingredient?
A 2" X 2" skinny slivery square of parmesan rind. My nephew Josh, an accomplished professional chef, would totally approve!
You can easily leave it out--but, I thought it added a mellow richness--without adding any cheese. There was nothing to really melt. It's just a thin 2-inch square sliver of parmesan rind. It stayed pretty much intact & was easy to discard after cooking. Obviously, this is a deal-breaker for 100% vegans. Easy to leave out.
The Healthy Librarian's "Enlightened & Enriched" Riff on Alton Brown's Best Winter Vegetable Soup
Cooking time: about 2+ hours
Makes 6 1/2+ quarts of soup
This recipe is an "enlightened & enriched" riff off of Alton Brown's soup.
For the recipe on one page, click here
- 8 ounces of cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 teaspoons of fresh sage, chopped
- 28 ounces of whole tomatoes in tomato puree or juice (next time, I'm using chopped tomatoes)
- 2 ½ quarts of low-sodium vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce (Alton says the soy adds Umami)
- 2” X 2” skinny square of parmesan rind (TOTALLY OPTIONAL!!) It stayed intact & we discarded it after cooking.
- 1 pound, 2 ounces of pre-cut butternut squash cubes (the size of TJ's pre-packaged cut-up squash) TIP: You can roast the cubes & add near the end of the "soup-cooking" time, for an even richer taste.
- 10 ounces of chopped curly kale, stems removed
- 2 cans (15 ounce ea.) no-salt Great Northern beans---DO NOT DRAIN!
- 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. (Alton says the vinegar cuts the acidity of the tomatoes)
OPTION: You can roast the butternut squash chunks in a 425 degree oven & add them near the end of the "soup-cooking" time, when you add the mushrooms back into the soup--for an even richer taste.
1. Use a large 8 quart soup pot. Heat on high & sear & brown the mushrooms, until tender. Only add a little water or broth if they start to stick. Remove them from the pot, to add back in later.
2. Lower heat & sweat onions, carrots, & celery over low heat for 30 minutes, at least. I like to cover the pot, and stir occasionally, checking to see if they are getting too dry, & need a little water to deglaze the pan. They’ll be very soft.
3. Add in garlic, rosemary, & sage
4. Add the tomatoes in their juice, & mix with a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes, to blend everything together. (Note: next time I'm using chopped tomatoes)
5. Increase the heat, & add the vegetable broth to the pot. Mix in soy sauce & drop in the parmesan rind heat just until boiling.
6. Lower heat to a simmer & add the squash & kale. Cover & simmer for at least 30 minutes.
7. Now, add the mushrooms back in, & the 2 undrained cans of Great Northern beans to help thicken the soup with the starch. Mix well. Then add the 2 TBS of red wine vinegar to cut the acidity from the tomatoes.
8. Heat through.
9. Alton says this is the best soup he has ever made.
Options: Consider adding some orzo or other whole grain small pasta into the soup.
Serve with a salad & crusty grainy bread.
Based on a 2 1/4 cup serving